Sometimes You’re Wrong Even When You’re Right
On Thursday July 16, 2009 after returning from a trip to China, Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. had difficulty opening the front door of the home he leases from Harvard. After he and his driver struggled with the front door Dr. Gates gained entry through the back door of the home, shut off the alarm, opened the front door, and the driver left.
According to Cambridge Police Department Incident Report #9005127, a neighbor called the police and reported a possible breaking and entering at the residence. The woman “…observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch…” Her suspicions were aroused when, “…she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.” The uniformed police officer went to the front door, saw Dr. Gates standing in the foyer and asked him to step out onto the porch. Dr. Gates refused.
According to the Incident Report, after identifying himself as Sgt. Crowly and explaining that he was “investigating a report of a break-in in progress” at the residence, Dr. Gates opened the front door and stated, “why, because I’m a black man in America?” After supplying the officer with Harvard University identification, the officer radioed for Harvard University Police.